Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Countdown is On - Looking Back and Looking Ahead

Tommy Walker sings some of my favorite contemporary Christian songs.

Like "I Have a Hope."
I have a hope. I have a future.
I have a destiny that is yet awaiting me.
My life's not over; a new beginning's just begun.
I have a hope. I have this hope.

And "To God be the Glory."


Also "When I don't know what to do."
This song was my theme during a time of deep trial back in 2008 and 2009.

When I don't know what to do, I'll lift my hands.
When I don't know what to say, I'll speak your praise.
When I don't know where to go, I'll run to your throne.
When I don't know what to think, I'll stand on your truth.
As I bow my knees, send your perfect peace.
As I lift my hands, let your healing come.

But today, as 2016 comes to a close, I am thinking about this one, "We Will Remember."

We will remember the works of your hands
and we will stop and give your praise -
for great is thy faithfulness.


My kids laugh at me and shake their heads because I listen to the same two dozen songs or so over and over again. The songs highlighted here are on my short list of oft repeated tunes. I cannot imagine beginning or ending a year without looking back and remembering all that God has done, God's great faithfulness and mercy and comforting presence, even in the toughest times, perhaps most especially then. 

The second verse of this song goes like this: 
When we walk through life's darkest valleys
we will look back at all you have done
and we will shout, "Our God is good and he is the faithful one."

As I look back at some of life's darkest valleys, some of which we traversed in 2016,
I can shout, I do shout, I will shout through many tears, that God has been good and oh so faithful.

God showed up through the compassion of friends and pastors who sat with us in the emergency room at the hospital - a dreadful, distressing, hopeful, helpful place that we had to visit four times this year.

God showed up through the chocolate chip cookies, the muffins, the roasted chicken, the tea dates, the hospitality, and the generosity of so many friends and family members.

God showed up at church through the prayers, the sermons, the lessons, the tough discussions, the apologies, the forgiveness, the tender care given and received in that sacred place and that loving community.

God showed up on the streets of Charlotte through the peace keepers who stood between and among those who protested police brutality and those who sought to silence the protests.

God showed up in seminary classes when the discussions got hot - how could he show up with a "Tr*mp/P*nce Make America Great Again" tee shirt AND a safety pin? What was he thinking?

God showed up at Myers Park Baptist Church with words of encouragement from Dr William Barber when he challenged us to be people of subversive hope, of courage, of resilience as we enter into the new year and a new president takes office. Let there be hope.

God showed up in the hospital, at doctor's appointments, at the silent retreat, in sessions with my therapist and my spiritual director, in Madrid, in New York City, with my writing group, at 24/7, at the hospice unit, through hugs and laughter, tears and brokenheartedness. God was ever present.

God showed up and helped my dear friend sit tenderly and lovingly with her father as he transitioned from this life into the next one.

God showed up with another friend as he went through treatment for kanswer: chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation. God showed up as attentive doctors and nurses, family members with meals and encouragement, and seminary friends with ceaseless prayer and notes of support.

God showed up as strength and stamina for a dear pastor friend went from being on a pastoral team of two to being a solo pastor. So many more responsibilities, so much more expected. But God was faithful and present always.

God showed up as we walked the streets of Charlotte praying for peace, as we served the community as volunteers, feeding the hungry, welcoming the homeless, loving the outcast, and encouraging the fearful and despairing.

God showed up in times of celebration - at weddings, at parties, at graduations, at church services, and in small moments of simple joy and quiet happiness.

Entering 2017, I do have a hope and a future.
In 2017, when I don't know what to do, I will bow my knees and lift my hands.
Ending 2016 and looking ahead to 2017, I will join many others in giving God glory for God's great faithfulness.
Today, tonight, tomorrow, and all the time, there is so much to remember,
so much to release, so much for which to give God thanks and praise -
and so much to look forward to.

The countdown is on.
Just a few hours left in 2016.
I plan to spend them with my dearly beloved ones.
Eating, drinking, being merry.
And always, always, always, giving thanks.

Happy new year to you, wherever you are, whatever your circumstances.
Know that you are never alone, often prayed for, and always loved.
Peace be with you every step of your life journey.

May God Almighty bless you and keep you,
protect you and provide for you in 2017 and beyond.

2 comments:

chainthree said...

Thanks for introducing me to the music of Tommy Walker! I read this post on a gray and rainy Saturday when I was sinking into discouragement from failures of the previous day, feeling overwhelmed with tasks and responsibilities of this day, and "I Have a Hope" was the perfect antidote! --Jennifer

GailNHB said...

Jennifer, thank you so much for this word of encouragement. Tommy Walker's music has lifted my spirits and brought tears to my eyes for years now. I turn to these songs often. I am so glad that "I have a hope" gave you some hope. Hang in there, my sister friend.